Monday, March 30, 2015

2014 Green Bay Packers Police

The Oddball Card Collector loves the 1970s and 1980s... Good times were had by all -- well, maybe not by New Orleans Saints fans, but these times were otherwise fun enough.

But what about the countless oddball sets that have been released in the new millennium? Surely there have been sets created these past few years that deserve a mention?

Of course there are. Actually, all of them deserve a mention on this humble blog... So many cards, so little time... With that in mind, it was time to find something produced since the birth of the smartphone. A reach into the shoebox yielded this random set from 2014 -- a nifty Green Bay Packers Police set.

These Packers Police sets have basically been produced yearly since 1983, and have been sponsored by an endless variety of Wisconsin police departments. Any given year, up to a dozen or so variations may be created as the various law enforcement agencies are listed somewhere on their cards. Some versions are scarcer than others, depending on the number of cards ordered by each agency. Other than the small area on the card listing the sponsoring agencies, everything else on the cards are otherwise the same (the rosters, photos and designs are all the same). Only the most serious of collectors attempt to track down the innumerable police department variations produced for the Packers sets these past thirty-plus years, and for the most part there seems to be no premium value attached to the various departments.

The 2014 version of the set consists of 20 cards, and as the back of this card shows, the set in our collection comes from the Town of Brookfield Police Department (we're not sure which other agencies distributed the cards, but we'd be interested in getting a hold of those, too). Fronts feature a unique brushed metal look to them, though these cards are made of simple cardboard and ink. Each is numbered "Card XX of 20."

The nucleus of an awesome Green Bay club is represented in this set, and boy, what a powerhouse of an NFL team these guys are. You might need to go all the way back to the 1981 Steelers Police set to find such an impressive roster of "kick yo' ass-edness." Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Terry Bradshaw... Running backs Eddie Lacy and Franco Harris... Wideouts Jordy Nelson and Lynn Swann... Linebackers Jack Lambert and A.J. Hawk... Seeing both teams play head-to-head would surely be a game to remember.

I'm pretty sure that the old way of distributing police cards are long gone (find a cop, get a couple of cards), and at this point you'll typically find mint complete sets as opposed to random singles. The quality control of this set rates very close to a "10", and our set is free of printing defects, centering issues or bad corners/edges. If you're going to add a set to your collection, make sure your cards are uncirculated and mint!

I'd give the set a value of $5. These cards are easily available on eBay as of this writing, and the low value is due more to lack of demand than gazillions of cards being printed. I'm sure these sets were printed in reasonable quantities, especially for the smaller police agencies.

Whichever agencies those may be.

Click here to find Packers Police Sets on eBay

1. Ted Thompson, GM
2. Mike McCarthy, HC
3. Aaron Rodgers, QB
4. Jordy Nelson, WR
5. Randall Cobb, WR
6. T.J. Lang, G
7. Josh Sitton, G
8. David Bakhtiari, T
9. Eddie Lacy, RB
10. John Kuhn, FB
11. B.J. Raji, DT
12. Mike Daniels, DT
13. A.J. Hawk, LB
14. Clay Matthews, LB
15. Tramon Williams, CB
16. Morgan Burnett, S
17. Sam Shields, CB
18. Julius Peppers, LB/DE
19. Mason Crosby, K
20. Tim Masthay, P

Thursday, March 26, 2015

1984 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Police

If these cards aren't the ones you're looking for, take a peek at the 1980 Buccaneers Police Set. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two sets is to look at the backs. The 1980 cards will have either a Coca-Cola or Paradyne logo, while the 1984 cards have neither.

The Tampa Bay Bucs, in conjunction with local area law enforcement agencies, released a second local "police" set in 1984 (the first one was the '80 set linked above). Both sets are complete at a whopping 56 cards each, which allowed a buttload of players the chance to make their lone card appearance as a professional NFL player.

Police sets from the late 70's to mid 80's had a general format for both the card fronts and backs, and this set followed the said formula faithfully. Fronts feature a large photo and basic biographical information for the pictured player. A small Bucs helmet with an old-school two-bar facemask is also featured on card fronts. Card backs feature a football definition and a safety tip that warns kids not to be kids ("When you fly a kite, stay away from overhead wires!") The three sponsors listed across the bottom are The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Community Security Council and Your Local Law Enforcement Agencies. The cards are not numbered.

One opportunity we feel this set missed was the chance to show the players in all of their Sunday glory on the playing field -- every player card except for one features a boring studio closeup shot, and the players are shown wearing either a blank orange jersey, or a shirt that has a number that isn't theirs. The lone exception on a player card is that of linebacker Danny Spradlin, who may or may not have existed, and who is pictured on his card in full pads and helmet. To the credit of the set, extra action cards of running back James Wilder, defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, linebacker Hugh Green, and the overall defense were added to the set to spice things up a bit. Cards were also made for the Shwash-Buc-Lers cheerleading squad, head coach John McKay and team owner Hugh Culverhouse.

Any Bucs fan, police set collector or obscure player enthusiast should seriously consider grabbing these cards. With larger, more inclusive nationally-released football sets still being a good five years away, many players made their lone cardboard appearance in this '84 gem of an oddball set. Kicker Obed Ariri, offensive tackle Ken Kaplan, running back Melvin Carver, our friendly linebacker Danny Spradlin... The list seemingly goes on and on. Add to that the large number of veterans pictured for the first (or only) time with the Bucs, and now you're really talkin' football. One example is offensive guard Steve Courson, who snagged two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and 1979, and played for Tampa during the '84 and '85 seasons. Courson was never pictured on a Topps card, but did manage to make the 1983 Steelers Police Set. Offensive tackle Ron Heller is pictured here as a Buc during his rookie season, and would not receive a Topps card until their 1989 Traded Set was issued five years later (when he was pictured as a Philadelphia Eagle).

This set is probably easier to find than it's older 1980 brother, but you still won't see these all too often. After being released in modest quantities over thirty years ago, the supply has seemingly dried up, and to our knowledge no large hoards of these have ever been dumped on the market. Random singles can be found here and there, but complete sets seem to be fairly elusive. Regarding value, the lack of superstar players keeps the set price reasonable. Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon is the biggest name to be found, with a trail of respectable players following somewhere behind (quarterback Steve DeBerg, coach John McKay, running back James Wilder, linebacker Hugh Green). 

We'd estimate this set to be somewhere in the $50 range, give or take a few bucks to the right buyer. How do you go about finding a set if you'd like to add one to your collection? Well, the answer is simple...

Start Spradlin' the news.

Click here to find Bucs Police Cards on eBay

(1) Buccaneers Artwork Card
(2) John McKay, Head Coach
(3) Fred Acorn, DB
(4) Obed Ariri, K
(5) Adger Armstrong, RB
(6) Jerry Bell, TE
(7) Theo Bell, WR
(8) Byron Braggs, DE
(9) Scot Brantley, LB
(10) Cedric Brown, DB
(11) Keith Browner, LB
(12) John Cannon, DE
(13) Jay Carroll, TE
(14) Gerald Carter, WR
(15) Melvin Carver, RB
(16) Jeremiah Castille, DB
(17) Mark Cotney, DB
(18) Steve Courson, OG
(19) Jeff Davis, LB
(20) Steve DeBerg, QB
(21) Sean Farrell, OL
(22) Frank Garcia, P
(23) Jimmie Giles, TE
(24) Hugh Green, LB
(25) Hugh Green Action
(26) Randy Grimes, OL
(27) Ron Heller, OT
(28) John Holt, DB
(29) Kevin House, WR
(30) Noah Jackson, OG
(31) Cecil Johnson, LB
(32)  Ken Kaplan, OT
(33) Blair Kiel, QB
(34) David Logan, DT
(35) Brison Manor, DE
(36) Michael Morton, KR
(37) James Owens, RB
(38) Beasley Reece, DB
(39) Gene Sanders, OT
(40) Lee Roy Selmon, DE
(41) Lee Roy Selmon Action
(42) Danny Spradlin, LB
(43) Kelly Thomas, OT
(44) Norris Thomas, DB
(45) Jack Thompson, QB
(46) Perry Tuttle, WR
(47) Chris Washington, LB
(48) Mike Washington, DB
(49) James Wilder, RB
(50) James Wilder Action
(51) Steve Wilson, C
(52) Mark White, TE
(53) Richard Wood, LB
(54) Defensive Action
(55) Hugh Culverhouse, Owner
(56) Swash-Buc-Lers, Cheerleaders

Saturday, March 21, 2015

1993 Richmond Kickers Soccer Set

The Oddball Card Collector loves obscure soccer sets... Come to think of it, most soccer sets are pretty darn obscure. But, in our attempt to bring obscure soccer sets to a new, higher level of obscurity, we hereby submit our top choice: The 1993 Richmond Kickers set.

This set is so rare -- and seemingly undocumented -- that one has to wonder if these cards were ever issued. I stumbled upon this set one evening whilst walking through the convoluted online garage sale known as eBay, and promptly added it to my collection with an unflinching click of the "Buy It Now" button. As far as researching the set, Google yields no clues whatsoever. Thankfully, the players and coach pictured on these cards quickly narrow down the year of issue here to 1993, the inaugural season of the Kickers in the USISL (United States Interregional Soccer League).

These cards are slightly larger than the standard size, measuring 2 5/8 across by 3 5/8 tall. The set we obtained features 21 unnumbered cards that were printed on semi-glossy card stock. Backs are printed in varying shades of green and give a short bio of the subject listed. The set was sponsored by the "Sportsmed" division of the Henrico Doctors' Hospital. Cards are not numbered except for player uniform numbers.

A few players went on to perform at the MLS level, including goalkeeper Scott Budnick, midfielder Mike Huwiler, forward Rob Ukrop and midfielder Richie Williams, who played eight productive seasons with D.C. United and Metro Stars.  Forward Leigh Cowlishaw was the first player to have his number retired by the Kickers, and is still involved with the franchise today as their successful coach. Bobby Lennon co-founded the Kickers with Cookie Ketcham, both of whom are pictured on cards in the set.

It's hard to put a price on a set that collectors don't know exists. I'm sure that die-hard Richmond fans would have an interest, and regional oddball collectors as well. All I can say is grab one when ya find it.

Click here to find Kickers Cards on eBay

(1) Liam Behrens, Defender
(2) Tony Blunt, Defender
(3) Matt Borgard, Midfield/Forward
(4) Scott Budnick, Goalkeeper
(5) Patrick Burke, Midfield
(6) Karlton Byrd, Defender
(7) Leigh Cowlishaw, Forward
(8) Scott Davis, Defender
(9) John Dugan, Forward
(10) Eric Dumbleton, Forward
(11) Mike Huwiler, Midfield/Defender
(12) Cookie Ketcham, Owner/Office Manager/Director
(13) Bobby Lennon, Owner/Coach/General Manager
(14) Joe O'Carroll, Goalkeeper
(15) Sean Phillips, Defender
(16) Duncan Satchell, Defender
(17) Khary Stockton, Midfield/Forward
(18) Jack Thomas, Certified Athletic Trainer
(19) Rob Ukrop, Forward
(20) Kathlene Watz, Certified Athletic Trainer
(21) Richie Williams, Midfield

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1980 Dallas Cowboys Police Set

The cards pictured above are from the 1980 Dallas Cowboys Police set, which was distributed by local DFW area law enforcement agencies during the '80 NFL season (If these don't look like the cards you're searching for, we've also blogged on the 1979 set, 1981 set and 1983 set). A complete set consists of fourteen player cards. None of the subjects featured in the inaugural 1979 set are included here, so adding both sets to your collection will net 28 different players, plus Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry ('79) for good measure.

Football collectors will remember that the Topps Company produced the only nationally-distributed yearly football card set until 1989, so many deserving players were denied spots in the too-small Topps football sets of the day... Enter the likes of the 1980 Cowboys Police set, where several of these under-appreciated soldiers were able to gain a bit of recognition.

Running back Scott Laidlaw played six seasons in the NFL (1975-80), but was represented in a Topps set only once, in 1977. Hall of Fame tackle Rayfield Wright labored for Dallas from 1967 through 1979, but only appeared in five Topps sets during that time (1972-76). Defensive tackle Larry Cole is perhaps the poster child of the "Topps snub," appearing in just two Topps sets (1975 and '76) during a thirteen-year career with the Cowboys that lasted from 1968 to 1980.

The fourteen Cowboys here are represented with beautiful action pics provided by photographer Steve Harris... Incidentally, another complaint often heard from football collectors was the lack of action photos found within the Topps sets -- bench and sideline shots were found on the majority of Topps football cards in the 1970s and 1980s.

Card backs feature a large rectangle with a "Cowboys Tip" across the body, along with a list of sponsors across the bottom (Kiwanis Club, Area Law Enforcement Agency and Dallas Cowboys Weekly). The cards are unnumbered with the exception of the players' uniform numbers.

Regarding scarcity, these cards were produced in modest quantities. While certainly not considered a rare set, today's market isn't flooded with an excess of 1980 Cowboys Police cards. A reasonable value for the set is in the $12 to $15 range.

Click here to hunt for Cowboys Police Sets Sets on eBay

(1) Rafael Septien, Kicker
(11) Danny White, Quarterback/Punter
(25) Aaron Kyle, Cornerback
(26) Preston Pearson, Running Back
(31) Benny Barnes, Cornerback
(35) Scott Laidlaw, Running Back
(42) Randy Hughes, Safety
(62) John Fitzgerald, Center
(63) Larry Cole, Defensive Tackle
(64) Tom Rafferty, Guard
(68) Herb Scott, Guard
(70) Rayfield Wright, Tackle
(78) John Dutton, Defensive End
(87) Jay Saldi, Tight End

Saturday, March 14, 2015

1984/85 Tacoma Stars Set (Pierce County Credit Unions)

We know very little about this simple, but glorious, Tacoma Stars card set. What we do know are the following facts:

1. The Stars were a franchise in the MISL from 1983 to 1992. This set was apparently released in 1984/85.

2. This set consists of sixteen numbered player cards and an unnumbered card that lists the locations of participating Pierce County Credit Unions.

3. Card fronts feature a posed color photo of the player, along with his name and position across the top. The Tacoma Stars team logo is pictured at the bottom.

4. Card backs are all similar except for the card number, which is listed at the top right corner. Backs say, "Compliments of the Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions who have adopted the Stars."

5. Cards are printed to thin, white card stock.

6. Even though there are 29 different participating Credit Unions listed on the locations card,  this damned set is really tough to find.

Lord knows what the value of this set might be. As is the case with virtually every other regional soccer release, most collectors probably have no idea this issue exists. With that being said, fans of 1980s soccer will recognize several names found within these cards. Defender Jimmy McAlister was the 1977 NASL Rookie of the Year, and earned six caps with the United States national team from 1977 though 1979. Ralph Black was a defender whose professional career spanned the years 1982 through 1999. Forward Mark Peterson had six appearances with the United States national team from 1980 through 1985, and played professionally from 1980 to 1987.

Click here to find Tacoma Soccer Cards on eBay

1. Ralph Black, Defender
2. Neil Megson, Defender
3. Mark Peterson, Forward
4. Gary Heale, Forward
5. Chris Hellenkamp, Midfielder
6. John Barretta, Goalkeeper
7. Paul Roe, Midfielder
8. Flemming Pehrson, Forward
9. Dale Mitchell, Forward
10. Danko Grgic, Forward
11. Ray Evans, Defender
12. Geoff Wall, Midfielder
13. Frank Barton, Midfielder
14. Jim Sinclair, Defender
15. Mike Enneking, Forward
16. Jimmy McAlister, Defender
(NNO) Pierce County Credit Union List Card

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1988 Cal Cards San Bernardino Spirit Set (Ken Griffey Jr.)

I'll never forget the first time I read the name "Ken Griffey Jr." and saw his picture. As a matter of fact, I'll show you. It was in this advertisement for Tuff Stuff magazine, which was featured in a mid-1988 issue of Sports Collectors Digest. Here it is:

That's right. If you subscribed to Tuff Stuff magazine during this promotion back in 1988, this gem of card, as well as the rest of the 1988 Cal Cards San Bernardino Spirit set, was yours. Looking back now, we must applaud the Tuff Stuff marketing department for choosing an all-but obscure set in 1988, a year before Griffey made his first appearance in the majors with Seattle... After all, Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Kelly were much more popular with speculators at the time.

But enough about me and Roberto Kelly. 

Cal Cards produced a modest run of California League team sets from about 1988 to 1991-ish, snagging a few future superstars along the way (Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza come to mind). The designs were a bit basic, and maybe even quietly classic. Minor League cards and their collectors had been enjoying steady growth since the early 1980s, and some Minor League teams even had three different sets produced for them in one season. The '88 Spirit team were carded by two companies, Cal Cards and Best. Best produced two versions of their set, with their special "Platinum" edition being limited to just 1,300 numbered sets. At the height of Griffey mania, an example of this Best Platinum set was known to sell for $650.

But enough about Best Platinum sets.

The 1988 Cal Cards Spirit set consists of 28 cards, which are actually numbered from 28 to 55 on the backs. Though each team set was sold separately, Cal Cards adopted the numbering method used by most Minor League card producers at the time, which was to number their cards among the team sets to reflect one large complete set. Each team set produced that year was given it's own border color, and San Bernardino was assigned a dark blue border. Though Griffey is obviously the big name in the set, others from this "A" level club went on to have varying degrees of success in the majors. Rich DeLucia, Dave Burba, Jerry Goff, Jim Bowie and Pat Rice all made it to the bigs. Pitcher Jeff Nelson stuck around the majors for fifteen seasons, including an All-Star appearance with the Mariners in 2001, and four World Series rings with the Yankees (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000).

I should probably mention that an unlicensed Griffey card was made to look like his 1988 Cal Cards issue. It began showing up in the hobby around 1990, and has unfortunately fooled more than a few collectors. Thankfully, the card features a photo of Griffey that is completely different than the one found on a legit Cal Card. In addition, the information found on the back of the bogus card was completely re-typed, as opposed to being photocopied. The differences can be easily seen when comparing the two backs side by side, with the card number "34" being much fatter and mushed-together on the fake. Here's a look at a legit and fake Griffey, compared next to each other:

The set can be found today with little trouble for $40 or less... Keeping an eye open for "auction" formats on eBay can net you one for considerably less.  When you compare the relative scarcity of this Griffey versus the number of his rookie cards printed in 1989 by Donruss, Fleer, and even Upper Deck, you'll be wise to slip one of these sets in to your collection.

Just make sure Ken Jr. isn't wearing a white jersey.

Click here to find 1988 Spirit Sets on eBay

28. Bryan King
29. Steve Murray
30. Jim Bowie Jr.
31. Dan Disher
32. Clay Guinn
33. Jerry Goff
34. Ken Griffey Jr.
35. Joe Kemp
36. Jose Tartabull
37. William Diaz
38. Ted Williams
39. Steve Hisey
40. Mike Brocki
41. Ted Eldredge
42. Jody Ryan
43. Pat Rice
44. Keith Helton
45. Howard Townsend
46. Tim McLain
47. Jim Blueberg
48. Jeff Nelson
49. David Burba
50. Rich DeLucia
51. Todd Hayes
52. Rich Doyle
53. Ralph Dick
54. Bobby Cuellar
55. Don Reynolds